A fuscia pink wheelchair and hearing aids are part of a new American Girl line of accessories that includes purple sunglasses, earrings in the shape of pets and a flower-power purse.
But after noting that these items allow kids with disabilities to see themselves in their toys, and help normalize differences for all children, Jezebel writer Dodai Stewart questions whether the company isn't focusing too much on "ultra-customization" -- instead of allowing girls to imagine themselves in a different time and culture.
"Does it put too much emphasis on the individual?" Stewart writes. "Is it all connected to this new selfishness, the kind of parenting that insists every child is a special snowflake, worthy of praise just for existing?
Huh?!! wrote Ellen at Love That Max this morning, which is where I heard about the story.
Stewart continues: "It seems like, with the original history-oriented American Girl Dolls, the doll was a time-machine friend, the book taught a lesson, and you didn't have to be black to learn from Addy, the girl who escapes slavery during the Civil War."
Yup, that makes sense.
But Stewart then questions whether the custom dolls mean "there's less interest in exploring different cultures."
News flash: Disability is a culture, an identity, a minority group that is devalued. Why does Stewart assume that only a girl who wears hearing aids or uses a wheelchair is going to purchase these accessories?
What about the girl who hears fine but want to imagine, through her doll, what it's like to wear pink hearing aids and speak with her hands and her mouth?
Isn't that the same as pretending you're the girl escaping slavery in the Civil War?
How is it any different?
For the first time millions of little girls (and boys) are going to be able to use their play in a way that opens up their minds to greater diversity.
Every child is a snowflake, and the more we encourage kids to create stories and play about all variations of those intricately-patterned crystals, the better. There isn't anything selfish about that.